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Real Journeys' new 138-person catamaran MV Titiroa took more than 120 guests on its maiden cruise of Lake Manapouri, after an official launch on Saturday.
The New Zealand-built vessel will take passengers on the first stage of their trip through Fiordland National Park to Doubtful Sound, cutting down on the number of crossings required by the older and smaller vessels it replaces.
Olive, Lady Hutchins, co-founder of Real Journeys-Fiordland Travel, attended the ceremony but it was her grand-daughter, Madeleine Peacock, who christened the catamaran.
It was named Titiroa after a mountain near Te Anau.
The guest of honour, Southland District Mayor Frana Cardno, congratulated Real Journeys for having "the courage to continue its investment into the region's future despite difficult times".
Real Journeys has also bought two new coaches to take visitors across Wilmot Pass to Doubtful Sound once they disembark from Titiroa and wharves at both ends of the lake have been upgraded and extended.
The vessel took five years of planning and research and 15 months to build, is almost 24m long, weighs about 55 tonnes and has a service speed of 24 knots.